Your Factory Berlin journey has been a winding one. How did you join the community and how has it changed for you now as a CEO?
I joined Factory Berlin as a member in 2017, in my former role as Senior VP Business Development at Siemens Mobility. One of my key areas of focus during this time was really strengthening partnerships between startups and corporates. It was clear from the beginning that something special was happening in the ecosystem. My perspectives were always challenged – and that’s something that’s key to an innovation-driven mindset.
After working with my now Co-CEO, and good friend, Martin Eyerer, we both made it our mission to take this to the next level in the community. With the team we built this new ethos of interdisciplinary collaboration, something that he and I had benefited from greatly working together. I was in the military, I studied 7 times, and I worked in a corporate environment, and Martin brings a music, culture and entrepreneurship perspective. When we talk about world topics, or even professional topics, we continuously learn from each other in this process of exchange.
Bringing different perspectives together is always going to offer more solutions to your problems than an homogenous group. That’s why we do this at Factory Berlin.
“It’s simple - bringing different perspectives together is always going to offer more solutions to your problems than discussion in an homogenous group.”
Let’s look forward a little – what do you expect from the future? What trends are you seeing in organisational culture as far as promoting post-pandemic innovation?
We all experienced this ‘Zoom fatigue’. Sitting in lockdown, it’s just not enough to rely on digital interactions. And the thing missing in this remote world is the social interaction and serendipitous connections that normally allow you to build your network. Who can really get to know new people at a digital conference when we’re not flooding to the coffee bar during speaker breaks? Companies will find that they’re hitting an innovation blockade unless they find methods to challenge their teams’ perspectives. Social isolation is not promoting a diversity of thought and exchange.
We’re seeing more interest in Factory Berlin for companies that are looking to do exactly this. And to be honest it’s the perfect place.
Bring your team into a network that is curated and built with the core purpose of exchange and interaction that promotes innovative thinking. Allow them to meet people in other teams, grow a network outside their core connections. Get them involved in programming that a corporate wouldn’t normally be able to offer their team. There’s a move to this ‘basecamp’ office setup. Teams secure a lab in our campus with only a few seats, alongside individual membership accesses for the whole team.
“Members are walking into a network of opportunities that are guaranteed to be at a high, high level. It’s a platform that will showcase your core successes, consolidate your expertise, and help you continue to grow.”
There’s real flexibility for the team – they can work from home, hold workshops in our buildings, or work from community workspaces, and have their ‘basecamp’ lab in the building. It’s far superior to co-working. Here we’ve got the network, the programs, the matchmaking – all these things that add way more value to your team than just a desk.
Ultimately being here will save you real estate costs and make your staff even more productive and creative.
The Factory Berlin mission is to empower creators. How do you see this mission in relation to corporate leadership? And how are you achieving this?
Networking is nothing new – it’s been the foundation of collaboration and innovation for ages (if not ever). But Factory Berlin curates a community, and enriches the networking process. We cannot predict success, but we’ve learned from 9 years of matchmaking, curation and success stories that we landed on somewhat unexpectedly. The interactions that organically arose meant we could identify the patterns of success here, in order to make these opportunities broadly available to the network.
So on one level members are walking into a network of opportunities that are guaranteed to be at a high, high level. It’s a platform that will showcase your core successes, consolidate your expertise, and help you continue to grow in that field. At the same time you’re receiving benefits outside of this by just embracing the interdisciplinarity of our community.
And inspiration. It is key to everything we do, and is a vital part of this empowerment. Inspiration is the spark that ignites a fire of genuine innovation.